Home Brentwood Brentwood City Council to Look at Future Use of Women’s Club Building

Brentwood City Council to Look at Future Use of Women’s Club Building

by ECT

On Tuesday, the Brentwood City Council agreed to not designate the city owned Women’s Club Building as surplus property and place it up for sale.  Instead, they will look into possible future uses—including a tourism and community information hub.

The 800 square foot building and 7,500 square foot property, located at 647 2nd Street, has been county owned from 1931 to 2001 with the city of Brentwood purchasing it in 2001. It has served many uses over the years which include:

  • 1922-1979 – First Brentwood Library
  • 1931-2009 – Women’s Club

Since taking over the property, the city has subleased the building for various civic groups, but it has not been rented out since the beginning of 2021 due to the cost of capital upgrades and tenant improvement needs estimated at $180k.

According to Senior analyst Josh Ewen:

  • Commercial Appraisal valuation: $400,000
  • City estimated renovation cost for $180,000 for public/city use (2021)
  • Staff has determined there is no need to retain the property to provide city provided services
  • City Council may elect to designate the property as surplus

With regards to this being a “historic building” the property is not listed on historic registries or places of historical significance of Contra Costa County, the State of California or the National Register of Historic Places.

Ewen asked council if they wanted to remain owners of the property or designate it as surplus or do some sort of privately or publicly owned partnership. But reminded the council if the city did not keep it public/city use, they would have to pay back to county $80k per the purchase agreement.

Brentwood City Council discusses what they wish to do with the property

Councilmember Susannah Meyer asked what would trigger the $80k payment back to the county.

Ewen explained per the agreement terms, say the building has to be for civic or governmental services. If not, they would have to pay $80k, but hoped they could re-negotiate that down from the county citing other improvements the city has down in the downtown area.

Meyer asked about what reasonable uses the property could have.

Ewen stated they were not sure and had to go out into the market while the appraisal stated it could be a lawyer’s office or a dentist office—an RFP could go out to the public. The city could also do a rezone or a specific plan amendment.

Vice Mayor Johnny Rodriquez stated he liked the idea by Councilmember Rarey as becoming a tourism or information building and to possibly explore it.

“It’s really sad to get rid of old buildings like that,” said Rodriquez. “I think it has a lot of value with the history but I really like the idea that councilmember Rarey was going towards with tourism/informational building when it comes to things we do here in Brentwood historical, but also currently.”

During public comments, Carolina Villaseca stated if they were going to use this space for tourism, the person should be the keeper of information so the community knows when events are stating it could be a single place where people could go to find information.

Amy Tilley, with the Downtown Brentwood Coalition, spoke about her goal was to continue to create a tourism aspect to the downtown.

“When I did a walk-through on the property earlier this year, my eyes lit up because I thought this is a place where we can do all of the things you are saying right now,” explained Tilley. “I have been putting some plans together for that and would love the opportunity for Downtown Brentwood Coalition to be able to run that and coordinate that and have a place, a hub for all these things that encourage tourism. That the public could go to, that provides information.”

During council discussion, councilmember Karen Rarey stated she pulled out the economic development strategic action plan from 2018, something that was not to sit on the shelf, and the third thing on the list was develop a visitor and tourism borough.

She advocated for creation of not only a historical building for tourism but also create a historical neighborhood.

“I think we are really missing it if we are considering selling this,” said Rarey.

Councilmember Jovita Mendoza stated at this point they shouldn’t sell it and should instead explore the cost to refurbish it.

“I agree, it should be a historical site and maybe look at a partnership with the Downtown Brentwood Coalition and someone from the city just because Amy is awesome and she has a huge area but we also have other areas. We have PA-1, we have the Streets of Brentwood, Lone Tree Shopping Center Corridor, I think it would be a great partnership with them and a great spot to be in,” said Mendoza. “There has to be a way to find the budget money next year to bring this up to code and move forward on it.”

She urged the city to hold onto the property even if they do not financially benefit, but the city could get a lot of other benefits in terms of quality of life.

Meyer agreed wit the idea of resources and events to providing a space for non-profit flyers and resources.

“I do like the idea of it being a partnership with a focus of downtown, but it wouldn’t necessarily stop downtown and we could expand  that to advertising other events outside of downtown and supporting other businesses if it was more in a partnership,” said Meyer. “This has the potential for a lot of marketing and tourism and bringing all of the different resources in the city into one hub. I am in support.”

Rodriquez agreed calling it a great opportunity to explore.

Rarey made a motion to look into restoring the house and bringing it back to council—along with seeing about moving this into a historical home/neighborhood.

City Attorney Damien Brower chimed in highlighting the agenda item was asking the council if they wanted to surplus the property or not—noting it does not go into flexibility of specific options of what they want to do with it because it appeared they do not want to surplus and sell it.

“I am a little concerned councilmember Rarey because your motion is going a bit beyond what the agenda item description is,” stated Brower while stating it would be appropriate to not move to sell it and have it come back at a future meeting with some options based on some of the matters discussed by council tonight. “I know that doesn’t get you to where you want to be but I am concerned at how the agenda item was written. The focus really was on the surplus and sale”

Rarey pushed back noting the presentation and report had the historical context.

Brower stated he was looking at the agenda and what the public would have seen and it was focused on surplus and sale.

The council then voted 5-0 on a motion that would opt not to sell the property, but come back and look at other options.

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